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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Telerobotics and Telepistemology

I've been wanting to have one more drink but now the party's over!

Back in March, I was asked to clarify my suggestion that the 17th
Century Dutch scopic regime is a model for telerobotic vision. I was
thinking of the role played by Leeuwenhoek and the microscope, which
emphasized the "fragmentary, detailed, and richly articulated surface of
a world it was content to describe rather than explain" (M. Jay, 1988). 
Similarly, telerobotic cameras on the net deemphasize a single
privileged frame by allowing the viewer to move the camera and select a
desired frame. 

Others such as Stephen Linhart pointed out that the Sojourner Mars
landing is very different than the Gulf War.  I agree; however the two
cases are similar in that they involve public institutions that give us
a unidirectional stream of information.  Any story covered by the news
media would be similar in this respect.  But telerobotic systems on the
net permit bidirectional exploration which permits a different type of

Michael Goldhaber made a nice distinction between live telerobotic
camera surveilling unsuspecting subjects vs "actors playing a definite
role", which is distinct from the prerecorded vs live axis I emphasized
in my original post.  I had briefly mentioned Wells' _War of the Worlds_
as one example of fictionalized documentary.  The real but staged class
of evidential uncertainty is a fundamental issue in, for example,
anthropology and documentary filmmaking, and is actively explored in
recent work by Robert Gober, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall. 

What seems to be unique in the case of network telerobotics is the role
of agency: the ability of the viewer to manipulate what purports to be a
live remote environment.  What is the basis for justified true belief
under these conditions? 


Ken Goldberg | goldberg@ieor.berkeley.edu | (510) 643-9565 | 4189
          University of California | Berkeley, CA 94720-1777
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